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Wellspring is a workshop that I'm running this year in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Lake Geneva is a little resort town near the Illinois border that has a beautiful, spring-fed lake. I'm about ready to head out the door to pick up the first out-of-towner, Vincent Jorgensen. We're have a few other "locals" from Chicago and a number of others flying or driving in for one week of writing, commiserating, and soul-bearing critiquing.

The list of attendees are:


If you're wondering, we modeled the workshop on the Blue Heaven design, started by Charles Coleman Finlay, which you can read about in detail here. The workshop design is simple and easy to reproduce, so if you're hankering for a workshop of your own, I highly recommend it. I think the peer-to-peer style is very valuable. If you're interested in it, and you ever have any questions about running one, drop me a line.

In the meantime, it's off to pick up Vince I go…

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Today, Beneath Ceaseless Skies released the second and final part of my Thousand and One Nights-style novelette, "From the Spices of Sanandira." And don't forget, Beneath Ceaseless Skies is holding a giveaway for two copies of The Winds of Khalakovo. All you need to do is comment on the story (details are at the end of the text).

You can find the story here (along with a link to Part I), but here's a short excerpt:

I sprint up the rocky ridge from the Night Wind, dragging the Prince with one hand. My legs burn. I cannot catch my breath, but fear drives me on. One moment’s hesitation and the beast will be upon us.
The ehrekh attacked just before we reached the fort—perhaps anticipating that we sought shelter there. The ship now lies ruined against the sand, her left skis torn free, a gaping hole in her hull where the ehrekh tore through.
A thud falls upon the earth behind me. Breath exits lungs with a sickening wheeze. The ehrekh roars. A scream is cut short.
When I glance back, the look in the ehrekh’s jaundiced eyes as he stands over a bloody mass of limbs is one of satisfaction, of calm knowledge there is nothing we can do to prevent our deaths. It kills three more men, the rahib among them, before we reach the fort, and then it retreats, emitting a rumbling chuckle.
The fort is a broken and useless thing for any large force, but it is enough for our haggard band. We huddle in a room with no ceiling and three standing walls. I stare in shock at what the ehrekh has left us. The Queen, her son, and seven men, including me.
We have flint and steel, which we use to build a fast-burning fire from the brittle scrub brush that litters the fort’s interior. Five men stand guard with the only weapons we have left. Somewhere in the darkness, the ehrekh harroons something close to a laugh.
I hope you enjoy the story. It feels wonderful to have it out in the world in its entirety.
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Remember that promotion that Night Shade set up for Barnes & Noble? The Free ebook download? Well, I just found out how many copies were downloaded.


Wow. I'm stunned. I knew from previous promotions that it was going to be in the tens of thousands, but 77k? I had no idea. That's pretty damn awesome, says I. I'm sure that a bunch of those are never going to read it, and for others, it won't be their cup of tea, but for a new author, it's just great and gratifying to get this into the hands of people that might never have heard of me otherwise. Plus, I've already heard from many readers that they plan to pick up the next novel, so all in all, this was a great and successful promotion.

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Elitist reviews just posted their thoughts on Winds. They had some very nice things to say, along with a couple of issues.

Here's a short excerpt from the full review:

One of the main elements of this novel that really had us nodding in appreciation was the setting. The use of an archipelago for the country/kingdom felt fresh. Beaulieu focuses on one main area, while still giving subtle nods to a much larger world. The use of airships in this novel was very well done, and felt completely natural. Mainly though, it was the inclusion of two distinct cultures that was fantastic. The characterNikandr Khalakovo and his betrothed Atiana Vostroma are very Russian, from traditions to language, to dress. It comes across smoothly and effortlessly. The other main culture is the nomadic Aramahn who feel extremely Middle Eastern influenced—perhaps Turkish or Persian. What is impressive is how these two wildly different cultures can coexist in this novel and feel natural together.

Overall I'm pleased. In your heart you want everyone to love your work unreservedly, but given that that's impossible, I'm glad that Steve enjoyed the read overall.

I'll say this, too. Some authors totally avoid reviews because they think it will be too difficult or that it will affect their writing. I'm not this way. I've waited so long to get this book out there, my first book, that I'm going to see what folks think about it. And if they have some negative things, they hurt, but I'm not going to shy away from them. I'll internalize what I think needs to be internalized and essentially "take it under advisement" for future works. So in this respect I think reviews can be healthy. After all, personal reading tastes and preferences aside, these guys read a lot, and they have some good insight to pass along.

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Part 1 of my novelette, "From the Spices of Sanandira," is now live at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Part 2 will be released later in the month, and also—drumroll, please!—BCS is holding a giveaway for two copies of The Winds of Khalakovo! Details for the giveaway are here

This is an interesting story from the perspective of my evolution as a writer. I wrote the first draft of this way back in 2005. It was after I'd been to the Writers of the Future workshop and award ceremony, and I'd decided I wanted to tackle a larger short story. It's been through quite a few revisions since then, but what I find interesting is that the seeds of Winds are in this story, at least some of them. Read it, and you'll quickly see what I mean.

I've also been mulling taking this world and expanding on it for a novel. One of my favorite book series as a teen was the Thieves World series. I loved Sanctuary, this massive city in the armpit of the Rankan Empire. It was so filled with everything I like in my novels: intrigue, magic, politics, thieves. Armies, gods, mages. I just ate that stuff up. I took much of what I remembered from Sanctuary and created Sanandira. It's not a copy. I don't remember it well enough to do that. But it's certainly an homage of sorts. It's a world I like, and one that I'd like to delve into more to see what comes of it. I'm not sure yet whether it'll blossom into a fully fledged novel, but I think it might…

In any case, enjoy. I'm very pleased to have the story out there, and I hope you like it too.

Comments? Link
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The Straits of Galahesh is done, done, done.

Well, ok, not done done. The true first draft is done, ready to be turned in to my editor, my agent, and the crew from the Wellspring Writing Workshop. The plan was to turn it in tomorrow night, so that gives me one more day to polish a few of the burrs off, but it's not going to change in any significant way.

The ms clocks in at 202,000 words. That's right about where I was figuring after I passed the halfway point in the book, which I thought was going to be 90k and ended up being over 100k. It's good, though. I don't think it's fatty. The Winds of Khalakovo was 180,000, and this book widens the story a bit, so this feels about right to me. Of course, I'll continue to refine it. I'm hoping I can cut 5-10k in my next round of edits, but there are some notes I've taken that need working on, and those may add words, so probably in the end this is just about the size it's going to be: roughly 200k.

Although there are a few things that need attention, I'm very pleased. I think it's an exciting story that holds true to the tale that Winds began. I think any fan of Winds is going to be excited about Straits; not only does it take off from prior events, it fills in some of the gaps (purposefully) left in the telling of Winds. Specifically, a lot more of the details of Nasim's past, as well as the past of Muqallad and Sariya (collectively known as the Al-Aqim) will be told. And also the Empire of Yrstanla comes front and center as it turns its attention to the islands once more, islands it once ruled.

I'm very concerned that I make Straits every bit as good as Winds, but I think it's off to a great start.

Comments? Link
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So here's the big news I mentioned yesterday. The Winds of Khalakovo is now available for all you Nook readers out there for free as part of a promotion with Barnes and Noble. You can go to the B&N page for Winds and download it to your Nook!

This promotion runs through June 9th. Please spread the word. I'd love to get Winds into as many hands as I can.

I'm actually a bit nervous about one aspect of the promotion. On the B&N page—like many feedback systems, I suppose—you'll find people giving low ratings in protest of B&N for whatever reason. They don't like the genre, they had problems downloading, they hate B&N. Whatever. The feedback has nothing to do with the work, and so in their efforts to make B&N notice them, they hurt the author with low ratings. All in all, it's still a wonderful opportunity, but I wish people would think about those they're hurting with those 1-star clicks.

Comments? Link
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You'll find me this weekend at the WisCon writing convention in Madison, WI. I'll be there from today (Thursday) until about noon on Sunday. I have two signings that I'll be available for at the Black Gate Booth, where John O'Neil has graciously allowed me to park and sign for anyone who cares to stop on by. And please do. I'd love to see you and chat. I also have a reading called "Swords for Hire."

Here are the deets:

  • Friday – 3:00 – 4:30pm – Signing at the Black Gate Booth in the dealer's room
  • Saturday – 3:00 – 4:30pm - Signing at the Black Gate Booth in the dealer's room
  • Saturday – 10:30 – 11:45pm – Swords for Hire reading – Conference 2 – with Alex Bledsoe, James P. Roberts, and Fred Shepartz

Hope to see you there!

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Paul Weimer has posted his review of Winds at The Functional Nerds. Here are a few brief excerpts from Paul's full review:

There is a lot here for epic fantasy fans to sink their teeth into. As I said in the opening to this review, Beaulieu has taken the opportunity to mine some unexplored veins for ideas in this secondary world. There is a genius to use Russian culture on a world template—an archipelago, very different than one might expect in a Russian culture inspired novel. Archipelagos are an uncommon and underused setting for secondary world novels.  It helps reinforce the secondary world feel of the book and is a great choice, I think, for the world building.

As I was reading this book, which I had purchased for my Kindle, a copy of the book, signed, came up as one of the items offered in the recent Genre for Japan donation auction. Even at that point, I was sufficiently impressed with the book that I wanted a signed copy, and so put in an ultimately winning bid for the signed copy.

And, I will definitely read the next book Beaulieu sets in this world.

Paul had some good observations, particularly about the dearth of Russian-themed fiction out there, but for me, those last three sentences say it all.

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A few weeks back I taped an interview with Mike and Mike (that would be Stackpole and Mennenga) over at the Dragon Page, and it just went live.

In the interview I talk about the Russian and Persian influences of The Winds of Khalakovo, and how those informed the development of character and cultural traits of the story. I also talk about conventions from the perspective of learning the craft of writing, including the GenCon Writer's Symposium both from the perspective of a young, up-and-coming writer as well as from a participant in the panels. I attended several of Mike Stackpole's seminar's over the years, so it was great fun for me to be interviewed by him, author-to-author.

This was also my first "live" interview. I was a bit nervous at first, but the Mikes were wonderful interviewers and they really put me at ease. Plus, we were talking about writing. Find me a writer that doesn't like to talk about writing, and… Well, what I'd do doesn't really matter, because there's no such thing!


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